Two Korean operators push the limits of 5G performance

Pre-5G trials continue to mount up in arguably the world’s leading 5G country, South Korea, with the latest tests by SK Telecom and LG U+.

The latter has worked with Huawei on what it claims to be the world’s largest-scale 5G test in a pre-commercial, rather than lab or showcase, environment. The trial took place in the Gangnam District of capital Seoul, using both 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. This was part of the preparations for the planned launch of a 5G network for next year’s Winter Olympics.

The trial helped to verify IPTV 4K video technology and other likely commercial 5G services, said LG U+, as well as testing dual connectivity and inter-cell handovers under continuous networking conditions.

During the trial in the dense urban area, the partners achieved average data rates of 1Gbps over the lower band and more than 5Gbps for dual connectivity using both bands. A peak data rate of 20Gbps was recorded enabled by dual connectivity to both spectrum sources.

The 5G IPTV 4K demonstration was carried out using a 5G tour bus and a virtual reality drone designed by Huawei’s Wireless X Labs.

“The world’s first large-scale joint 5G pre-commercial test indicated a significant breakthrough in 5G,” commented Kim Dae Hee, VP of the operator’s 5G strategy unit. “We believe that Huawei is set to help LG U+ implement the world’s first commercial 5G network over 3.5 GHz.”

Meanwhile, its larger rival, SK Telecom, claimed the successful deployment of a self-developed 5G-PON (passive optical network), capable of delivering multiple communications services over a single high bandwidth, efficient transport network. Unlike conventional distribution platforms, where different types of network are required for 3G, LTE and broadband access, 5G-PON can support them all, improving the cost efficiency and performance of 5G and combined fixed/mobile networks.

The solution can also work with smaller devices and equipment than existing distribution equipment, operates without an additional power supply and can be built in a protected ring architecture to ensure service continuity even if one line is disconnected.

SK Telecom has announced plans to roll out 5G-PON in 85 areas nationwide, including Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju, as a first phase. The solution will facilitate the process of delivering a broader coverage for the operator’s planned 5G roll-out.

The 5G-PON solution was developed in collaboration with local vendors including Solid, HFR, SunwaveTec and Coweaver. SK Telecom plans to propose the technology as a component of the ITU-T’s 5G standards.

“With 5G-PON built on our own specifications, we secured opportunities to improve the quality of service and lay the foundation for a successful roll-out of 5G,” SK Telecom’s head of infrastructure strategy, Choi Seung-won, said in a statement. “We will continue to develop our capabilities for advanced network technology and operation necessary for 5G roll-out.”